Just this past month, research in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed that as green space in economically deprived communities increased, levels of perceived stress decreased. The ability to see green space from a home and the frequency of visits to vegetated areas were significant predictors of general health.

Two indoor office plant cleaning the inside air of carcinogens Burlington, MA
1. Mental health plays a big role in the workplace. One in five Canadians will live with a mental illness or a substance abuse problem in any given year,according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and about 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to poor mental health—the fastest growing short and long-term disability claim. A new study from human resources consulting firm Morneau Shepell suggests mental illness costs the Canadian economy $20 to $51 billion per year; however, a stigma persists in office environments.
2. Green interior plants might not be able to fully cure such problems, but it could sure help retain tenants and employees, signaling to them that their sense of wellbeing matters. Currently, 39 per cent of workers, at least in Ontario, say they would not tell their managers if they were experiencing a mental health problem.
3. Yet, while some healthcare facilities and schools begin to embrace the concept, wellbeing is still not a priority in most commercial buildings. It seems that concerns about cost and maintenance and prioritizing energy efficiency often trump the ability to capitalize on wellbeing that comes from experiencing nature. Yet, a Terrapin report,The Economics of Biophilia, says biophilia can impact productivity costs that are 112 times greater than energy costs in the workplace.
4. “It’s about extracting more from our buildings and having buildings do more things for us than they currently do,” he says. “At the end of the day, we need to get way more benefit from buildings other than a roof and four walls to keep the snow and rain out. When owners and designers embrace these practices, they not only find that they’re able to achieve greater rates of wellbeing, faster rates of sales, higher rents and property values, but also the public benefits that spin off of these projects as well.”
5. Costs usually pay for themselves, but Peck notices a large number of developers still view green aspects as a burden or minimize them if they are a requirement.
6. “They still don’t see it as a positive attribute and are more interested in building a fitness room or pool,” he notes. “They’ll connect that to the value of a property.”
7. Overall, Rokosh says more people are “getting on board” and he’s receiving more calls from office building managers who want to beautify areas in order to rent hard-to-sell space.

8. “They want it in their office foyer, in their lunchroom for employees. It’s part of a green movement, but there is substance behind it as well,” he says. “Office managers are starting to realize they have less turnover in buildings and a higher retention rate. Their employees come to work often; there’s a greater morale in an environment that is comfortable and healthy. We’ll start to see a lot more of that in the coming years.”

This article written by:

Rebecca Melnyk is online editor of Building Strategies & Sustainability and Canadian PropertyManagement @rebeccachirp

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